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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

U.S. Isn’t the Only Country With Lockdown Protests

Quick Take

A social media post falsely claims that “the United States is the only country on earth that is protesting” stay-at-home restrictions and business closures. People around the world have opposed mitigation measures designed to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus because of economic hardship and concerns over personal freedoms.

Full Story

As COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, began to spread from its place of origin in Wuhan, China, other countries instituted social distancing policies and lockdowns to curb its transmission. Nations have ordered businesses to close, imposed travel restrictions, issued stay-at-home orders and established curfews, resulting in protests against these measures around the world. 

But a post that has been shared widely on Twitter and Facebook wrongly claims that only Americans have protested these preventative measures.

The claim originated on Twitter from Robert James Pangelinan, a music DJ who works under the name Bear Grillz.

Honest question: why do you think the United States is the only country on earth that is protesting being locked down?” he tweeted on May 1. Another user replied, “Because people who have never truly been oppressed are being inconvenienced for the first time in their lives and don’t understand what it means to sacrifice in the name of the greater good. Individualist culture, institutionalized racism, commodity fetishism and selfishness.” 

Both tweets were then made into a screenshot and posted to Facebook, where it has garnered hundreds of shares and tens of thousands of views.

Indeed, there have been many demonstrations across the U.S. urging an end to stay-at-home policies and criticizing the governors who have issued the orders. But this is part of a worldwide trend spurred by worries about the economy and potential government overreach. For example:

  • In Poland, hundreds gathered on April 24 to protest closed borders and a mandatory two-week quarantine policy for people entering the country. Many protesters had jobs in Germany and couldn’t go to work.
  • In India, migrant workers violated social distancing policies during a May 9 protest that resulted in confrontations with the police. Protesters sought to raise awareness of the plight of migrant workers, many of whom lost their jobs and were prevented from traveling home due to the lockdown.
  • In Belgium, restaurant workers brought attention to the economic impact of social distancing policies on the hospitality industry by laying down chefs’ jackets in the Grand Place square in Brussels on May 7.
  • In Ivory Coast, protesters destroyed the construction site of a coronavirus testing center in early April over concerns that the facility would be a danger to residents.

Protests continued within these countries and in others, including Iraq, Lebanon, and the UK. 

As for the claim in the social media posts that Americans are protesting because they “are being inconvenienced,” people have taken to the streets in the U.S. for a variety of reasons. While some protesters have touted conspiracy theories about the virus many of which we’ve debunked — others have expressed concerns about the economic impact of the virus. The number of jobless Americans rose to 20.5 million in April, and the unemployment rate more than tripled to 14.7% from March to April.

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here.


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